Tucson CitizenTucson Citizen

Two malls part of Kivel’s legacy


The real estate wizard helped develop El Con Mall and Park Mall.

Before El Con Mall, before Park Mall, before a myriad of other retail operations across the city, there was Joseph K. Kivel.

Mr. Kivel played a major role in the development of shopping centers and other commercial property. Although a low-profile landowner, the man was a mover and shaker in the local real estate market for more than 50 years.

Mr. Kivel died Thursday at 85. Services are to be held tomorrow at 2 p.m. at Temple Emanu-El, 225 N. Country Club Road. Rabbi Arthur R. Oleisky and Rabbi Albert T. Bilgray are to officiate. Burial will follow at Evergreen Cemetery, 3015 N. Oracle Road.

Mr. Kivel was the brother of the late Simon Kivel. In 1951, they bought the old El Con Hotel and the surrounding land bounded by East Broadway and East Fifth Street.

Joseph Kivel did not move permanently to Tucson from Los Angeles until 1953, but off and on he visited his brother here, said Joseph Kivel’s son, Foster. Simon Kivel had moved here in 1928.

“My father never wanted to tear the old hotel down,’ the son said. “His idea was to add a tower behind it or possibly make the old hotel into an upscale boutique shop.’

But a prospective tenant objected, saying the old hotel was an eyesore. It had to be demolished.

The Kivels, along with a Salt Lake City investor, opened El Con Mall in 1960. By standards of the day, it was a major shopping complex. Then in 1974, the addition of a third floor to the Levy’s (now Foley’s) building made that the largest single retail store in Arizona.

The brothers and other family members also developed El Rancho Center at 3360 E. Speedway Blvd. and the former Korby’s store at 3400 E. Speedway.

Meanwhile, just three miles east of El Con, the brothers built Park Mall at 5850 E. Broadway, said Foster Kivel. It was dedicated in May 1975.

Simon Kivel relinquished his part in Park Mall in exchange for other properties, said Foster Kivel. That left Joseph Kivel the sole owner and it remains in the family today. Also, the family holds interests in El Con.

Mr. Kivel is survived by Esther Kivel, his wife of 66 years; and sons, Rabbi (retired) Lee Kivel and Foster Kivel, all of Tucson; five grandchildren and four great grandchildren.

Donations in Mr. Kivel’s name may be made to the Tucson Hebrew Academy, 3888 E. River Road.

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